Acknowledging some concern that the proposed meaningful use rule was too stringent, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services today released a pared-back final rule governing the meaningful use of health information technology.
The final rule represents some significant changes from what was outlined in the proposed rule, including a reduction in the amount of computerized physician-order entry that is required by doctors and hospitals, and a reduced set of quality measures providers must comply with. In addition, the rule creates four core sets of requirements that eligible providers and hospitals both will have to follow in order to receive financial incentives through the program.
The rule was released during a press conference that included HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and David Blumenthal, the physician who leads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. They were joined by Don Berwick, the physician who was appointed June 12 as director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The CMS is leading efforts on the launch of meaningful use; however, because of joint efforts with ONC to create standards and certification for meaningful use, Blumenthal explained the final rule during the conference. He also published an explanation of the final rule in the New England Journal of Medicine.
More than 2,000 comments were made on the proposed rule, Blumenthal said. “We have tried to listen to those comments. We want the objectives of meaningful use to be ambitious, but also achievable.”
In addition to the four core sets of requirements, providers will have to choose five more out of 10 to meet Stage 1 meaningful use, Blumenthal said.
The final rule also alters the payment schedules for meeting those stages, and now providers will only have to be in compliance by 2014 with any meaningful use requirements launched in stages 1 and 2. There is no stage 3 explained in this rule. CMS stated in the final rule that it wants more time to consider what happens after 2014:
“We acknowledge the concerns regarding the different Medicare and Medicaid incentive timelines, as well as concerns about whether Stage 3 would be appropriate for an EP’s, eligible hospital’s or CAH’s first payment year at any point in the future, and believe the issue needs additional review and discussion before we lay out a clear path forward for 2015 and beyond.”